Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare Secretary is stepping down and headed to Washington, where she’ll take a job in the Obama Administration.
Estelle Richman will be the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s chief operating officer.
Governor Rendell heaped praise on Richman during a Capitol press conference, speaking for more than fifteen minutes about her accomplishments at DPW.
"It’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the interest of time, I didn’t read you all of the accomplishments DPW has made under this great woman. I believe that Estelle Richman has been, and I think the record will show, the most effective secretary of the Department of Public Welfare in the history of the commonwealth."
However, Richman has come under constant fire from House Republicans in recent months.
They’ve pointed to a report issued by Auditor General Jack Wagner’s office that found wasted dollars “and the potential for fraud” in DPW initiatives.
Rendell says critics are “wrong,” and that Richman turned the department around and increased efficiency during her tenure.
Richman says Secretary Shaun Donovan has asked her to coordinate efforts among HUD’s various departments.
"In the past, each of the what he calls ‘the Os’ –chief financial officer, chief procurement officer, chief policy officer, chief IT officer – have all pointed individually to the office of the secretary. And there hasn’t been a very integrated way that group works with the programmatic deputies to give HUD a single focusing mission."
Rendell is nominating Deputy Secretary Harriet Dichter to take over the department.